We like to blame everything on that voice in our head telling us we’re not good enough.
But it hit me the other day that maybe we are so focused on ignoring any negative voices in our head that we are depriving ourselves of progress.
When I first started pitching my own songs to real professional opportunities for recording artists or publishing companies or to music supervisors, I got rejected. Over and over. Like….shut down, rejected. And it almost always had to do with my lyric writing. One of the gatekeepers suggested I do some homework and start learning how to write better songs. I was in shock! I had been writing songs since I was old enough to form sentences. I didn’t need to learn how to write songs! I already did!!
What happened next was that I got extreme writer’s block. I went from feeling like a confident songwriter who could simply say “I want to write a song right now” and out it would come. Someone who never had a shortage of new and unique melodies flow into her mind. Suddenly, it all stopped. The fear of writing something that would inevitably get rejected stopped my creativity completely. It was horrible and devastating.
And it lasted for six months
So, I bought some books and began studying “how” to write great songs.
What got me writing again was writing in a different way. Instead of allowing the melodies to flow, I started with a title. Instead of allowing the first rhyme that popped into my head to land on the paper, I purchased a rhyming dictionary (nowadays, you can just pull up rhyme sites online.)
But the most important thing that happened was I now knew where the bar was and my gut would tell me if I hadn’t reached it yet. Even now, my gut will tell me if something isn’t quite good enough. I’ve learned to listen to that little voice in my head that says, “There’s a better word out there. That melody doesn’t have quite the payoff you want. That’s close but not quite it. You can find a better way to say that.”
I’ve learned to really trust that gut feeling. It’s not meant to tell me I’m not good enough. It’s meant to tell me that writing something that has a better chance of connecting with other humans takes more effort. And it’s worth that extra effort!
We’ve become afraid to listen to that critical voice in our heads because we think it is there to hold us back, tear us down, make us feel like we can’t do it. But I propose that there are two different voices in our head (ok, maybe a LOT more than two for most of us but that’s a different conversation). One voice is actually realistic, non-judgemental but provides constructive criticism that helps us improve. The second IS that bad-guy voice that wants us to think we aren’t deserving or that we’ll never get to where we want to be.
What if we started listening to Voice One
Let’s call her/him/it – Our Advocate. Our Mentor. Our Coach. Oh wait, hey, don’t we all need these in our lives to progress? Don’t we pay coaches and mentors money to keep us on track and nudge us out of our comfort zones? YES! Lucky us, I think we all have one of these coaches in our brain just waiting to help us be our best selves!
Our Coach will say
“I know there is something better in you, just keep digging”
“You are 100% capable of nailing this part, but you aren’t there yet. Keep at it”
“The world needs you in it. You provide value to others. Keep creating!”
Imposter Syndrome will say things like
“You’ll never be as good as…”
“You can’t do it, just give up”
“You shouldn’t even try, you don’t deserve to have success”
“How dare you think you could ever be as good as…”
Learning to listen to the Coach in my head that motivated me to do better was a game-changer. Recognizing the difference between the Imposter and the Coach was critical to my moving forward and improving my skills.
So, yes, I think Imposter Syndrome IS bad. But in your head, you also have a voice that knows what you can do and can push you to be your best.
Listen to THAT voice!